Brilliant Brisbane Scenic Drives And Day Trips

Brisbane is a vibrant city renowned for its stunning river setting, cosmopolitan nature and great weather. But while it will undoubtedly captivate you with landmarks and attractions like the South Bank, the Story Bridge, and the Botanic Gardens, a world of natural wonders awaits to be discovered just beyond its borders.

Within easy driving distance of Brissie are incredible beaches, hinterland and forest landscapes that will take your breath away. There are also plenty of quaint country towns to explore, where the local produce is delicious, and the hospitality is as warm as the sun.

Embarking on scenic drives and day trips from Brisbane allows you to experience a side of Queensland many tourists don’t see. So why not hire a car and check out these fabulously scenic destinations?

a google map showing scenic driving spots you can reach in a day from brisbane wiht a collage of images from around brisbane

Mount Tamborine

Distance from Brisbane ~ 14 km via state route 92 along Beaudesert Beenleigh Road (1 hour)

One of the most beautiful and easy drives from Brisbane is Mount Tamborine.

As it only takes half an hour to get to the base of the mountain from the CBD, the great thing about this drive is that you can do it even if you only have limited time available.

The leisurely drive up the winding mountain roads is genuinely stunning, and there are many lookout points where you can stop to photograph the views.

Once you arrive at the top, you will be spoilt for choosing what to do there. Not only can you swim in rock pools and have a picnic in one of the many parks, but you can also tackle a Treetop Walk to gain a unique view of your surroundings.

Additionally, there are several arts and crafts shops along the main street. If you are feeling adventurous, you can attempt one of the many rainforest trails that will take you to spectacular waterfalls.

Pro Tip: If you want a place to eat, head to the St Bernard’s Hotel. They have an incredible back verandah that presents spectacular views of the hinterland. They also have a couple of St Bernard dogs on-site that the kids are welcome to pat.

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D’Anguilar State Forest

Distance from Brisbane ~ 90 km round trip via D’Anguilar Highway (2-4 hours depending on stopping time)

For those wanting a beautiful and enjoyable day trip from Brisbane, the D’Anguilar State Forest is a terrific destination.

Located at the end of a scenic drive along the D’Anguilar Highway, this destination lets you visit Mount Nebo, Mount Glorious, Mount Mee, and surrounding areas en route to the forest.

AU Brisbane Scenic Drives And Day Trips - Mount Glorious

To get there, you must take the Tourist Route 8 up the D’Aguilar Ranges until you reach Mount Nebo and Mount Glorious. Once you arrive, you will have the perfect opportunity to stretch your legs and immerse yourself in the natural flora and fauna of the area. You can also explore historical sites, geological phenomena, and numerous walking trails that showcase stunning views. 

After going through the D’Anguilar State Forest, head down its western side toward Wivenhoe Dam and Fernvale. At Wivenhoe Dam, you can participate in water-based recreational activities such as kayaking, SUP and canoeing (should you want to hire equipment). It is also a very picturesque spot to enjoy a picnic lunch.

Blackall Range Tourist Drive, Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Distance from Brisbane ~ 150 km via Blackall Range tourist drive (1.5 hours)

If there is one scenic drive from Brisbane that showcases the true diversity of the area, then it is the Blackall Range Tourist Drive.

Spanning some 150 km from the city, the official tourist route of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland offers incredible views of lush, undulating hills, rainforest-rimmed roads and breathtaking lookout points.

Along the way, you’ll pass through charming towns like Maleny, Montville, and Mapleton, full of craft shops, cheese stores, clothing boutiques, art galleries, and several cafes.

If you stop at Montville, grab a coffee, then head to nearby Lake Baroon, where you can savour it with serene water views.

Also, visit the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, where you can take a break from driving and explore its bushwalk. Be sure to head to the upstairs viewing platform for magnificent views of the Glasshouse Mountains. The kids will love the playground there too!

Pro Tip: After completing the Blackall Range Tourist Drive, carry on to Mooloolaba, Mudjimba or Caloundra for a beautiful afternoon on the beach.

Southern Hinterland Drive

Distance from Brisbane ~ 200 km round trip via Gold Coast Highway and Tweed Valley Way (3-4 hours)

For all the appeal that lies up north or out west, one of the most beautiful drives you can take from Brisbane is down the southern coast, through the Hinterland.

To begin, drive south towards the Gold Coast and turn towards Advancetown at Mudgeeraba. Then take a trip around the lake and stop by Lower Beechmont.

AU Brisbane Scenic Drives And Day Trips - Beechmont

Afterwards, navigate the Numinbah Valley and head across the border into New South Wales. There you can visit Springbrook National Park.

When at the park, be sure to tackle The Natural Bridge Circuit. This fantastic 1 km walking trail takes you through the subtropical rainforest in the Numinbah Valley, ending at the breathtaking Natural Bridge.

To maximise your experience, it would be best if you also took some time to explore the other walking trails, lookouts, and waterfalls before having a picnic lunch at Apple Tree Park.

On your way back to Brisbane, drive through Tweed Valley and Crystal Creek, and continue to the charming towns of Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah before heading back towards the Currumbin Valley.


Distance from Brisbane ~ 80 km round trip via State Route 26 (1-2 hours)

The drive north up to Redcliffe is another excellent day trip from Brisbane. It is a fabulous, family-friendly location that truly offers something for everyone, including beautiful beaches, waterfront cafes and restaurants, weekend markets, and even whale-watching opportunities.

To begin, take the Hornibrooke Highway to Redcliffe and around the Headlands. Your first stop should be the Woody Point Jetty, where you can visit the Pelican Park playground, which, as its name suggests, is a children’s playground with pelicans nearby. You can also go fishing, while Margate Beach is worth stopping for a stroll or a quick dip.

Once in Redcliffe, be sure to find a four-hour parking spot, as you’ll need every minute of that time to enjoy the delights of this charming coastal town.

Remember also to drive up to Scarborough Point and Beach before leaving. This spot offers a great park your kids will love playing in.

Pro Tip: You’ll definitely want to do this drive if you are a fan of the Bee Gees. They briefly lived in Redcliffe in the 1950s, and there is a unique walkway complete with a musical light show, photos and statues of them you can visit.

Scenic Rim

Distance From Brisbane ~ 88 km one way via M5 & Centenary Hwy to State Route 93 (1 hour 15 minutes)

Venturing southwest of the city, the drive from Brisbane to The Scenic Rim is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry. 

On the journey to the northern hub of Harrisville, Peak Crossing and Kalbar, you’ll experience the warm ambience of country life in all its glory.

AU Brisbane Scenic Drives And Day Trips - Scenic Rim

Visit the Summer Land Camels at Harrisville to learn more about these stunning animals and even consider booking a camel ride. Additionally, Harrisville is home to the Historical Society Museum, which presents a fascinating display of what country life has been like in the area over the years.

Once you get to Kalbar, head to the Scenic Rim Flower Farm, where you can admire fields of cut and meadow flowers. If you happen to coordinate your visit with the Sunflower Festival, you can participate in various fun activities. These include yoga amidst the blooms, paint and sip glasses, a flower maze, photo sessions, and assorted entertainment for children.

Pro Tip: You can’t come to Australia and not have a barbecue. So if you find yourself in Kalbar, head to 2 m8’s BBQ for a delicious, hearty Aussie-style feed!

Samford / Dayboro

Distance From Brisbane ~ 100 km round trip via Waterworks Road and through Mt Nebo (2 hours)

Another excellent driving idea is to head northwest of Brisbane to the charming towns of Samford and Dayboro.

Despite being just a short drive from the city, these towns offer a relaxing, country atmosphere you’ll instantly be enchanted by. 

Start your visit at Samford, which has a delightful old-world charm and plenty of family-friendly activities. Remember your swimsuits so you can take a dip in Cedar Creek Falls. Also, if you have Harry Potter fans in your family, stop by the Store of Requirement, where you’ll be in your element. 

Next, head to Dayboro for even more small-town charm. There you will find historical buildings and a collection of craft, gift and antique shops. You can also eat at its incredible bakery or enjoy a family-friendly meal at Ocean View Estates Winery.

Even if you don’t want to eat at the winery, it is lovely to stroll around and enjoy the scenic vineyard views.

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Where to Next? More Australian Scenic Driving Inspiration

Even just sticking close to Brisbane, you’ll get a great taste of Australia. However, if you’d like to venture a little further and really hit the open road, why not check out next:

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